Sunday, May 30, 2010

Allan Rides (Writes) Again

I recently went with friends to see the Yokohama BayStars play. You might think baseball's the same the world over, but the experience is different in Japan.

The basics of the game are the same, in fact there were several American players on each team. There are cheerleaders, mascots and each team has it's own fans. The difference can be attributed to the fans. These are not what we think of as typical.

The fans have their own trumpets and drums. Each player has his own song, but unlike the American game, where the song is an original recording, the fans here make up a song, which is more like a cheer.

There are rules to cheering as well. You can only cheer when your team is at bat and you don't boo the other team or the umpires.

As the game progressed and the crowd imbibed in more alcohol, the cheering got louder and louder. Speaking about drinking, the concession personnel walking up and down the stadium are mainly women.

They carry at least a case of beer (cans) up and down the stadium. Remember that 5', 100 lbs. is average for a Japanese woman. The food was good, but also just a little different. I had yakisoba, which is fried noodles. You could get a hot dog, but not with a bun.

The band would play the tune for "CHARGE" and only we few Americans shouted. The Japanese really enjoyed us.

I went with Paul, Cheryl and Bailey Brochu, and we met some of their friends. Everyone seemed to have a great time.

The weekend after the baseball game, Liz and I went to Enoshima Island. It rained the entire time we were there. We walked to the island from the train station, up to the top and down the other side to go into some caves carved from the waves. We climbed back up and over, and it never stopped raining. It seemed like a place to go in the summer, beach area and a nice Aquarium. Hopefully we'll get a chance to go back when the weather is better. On the way back to the train, we stopped and Liz had an apple/mango ice cream.
Last week, when Liz was in the states, I went with some friends to the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo. It was interesting because of the unique animals. They had a large exhibit of various species of birds with the most unique, a huge condor.

They also had a silver back gorilla and something called a dhole. A dhole is a type of wild dog, I guess similar to a dingo. After the zoo, we went to lunch, a Japanese version of Korean barbeque. Awesome... maybe it was the beer that made it so good.

The sign above is pretty self-explanatory. Signs like these are a good idea, as we see below, boys will be boys.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Allan goes to Korea

It's been very quiet around 3-3-1 Shonan Takatori lately. Allan left for Korea on April 24th, TAD - Temporary Duty. I kept busy teaching, went to Tokyo, and ran around Yokosuka, but as it turned out I had too much time on my hands.

Since Allan was on temporary duty, it was mostly work, little play. He was scheduled for eleven days, which is pretty much the time it took to do the work. He came back with alot of Industrial Hygiene photos, none of which will appear in my blog. You're welcome.

His flight into Pusan arrived several hours late and his bags were the last to come out. But as planned, two men from the base picked him up and they went to a local bar (Duffy's) for a couple brews. There was a six-piece band and three patrons, including Allan. Having gotten a late start, they closed the place down.
His first five days were at Chinhae. These photos were taken from the highest point. You can reach it by stairs (365 of them) or by gondola. First is a view of the town, then some animal topiary, and the gondola. A memorial is built on this hill. It's called Chinhae Tower and has two levels dedicated to the history of what was a fishing village. Then five levels for observation, but no photos can be taken of the naval base.

After work the first day, he played basketball with some of the guys from base. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Yeah, he was sore, and he aggravated a muscle he'd injured surfing, but I know he had fun doing it.

Back at the bottom of the hill, he toured the town, with plenty of restuarants and a local farmers' market. The market had lots of live things for sale, including fish which Allan couldn't identify. Unusual, since he has a degree in Marine Biology.

He likes Korean food, so he had no trouble finding something interesting to eat, even kimchi, which he's always refused to eat, saying it's too spicy. Then he discovered that he also likes Korean beer, no surprize there.

He needed a Korean national escort to view the Turtle Ship, a replica of a 17th century vessel, 34.2 meters long, 10.3 meters wide, 16 oars and 14 cannons, constructed of wood and an iron clad shell, hence the name.

I don't even want to know how hard it was to row that thing across a bay.

There was a spot inside the ship where a fire pot connects to this dragon. Smoke from the pot would billow from the dragon's mouth. The cannons were tiny, when compared to contemporary vessels. The cannonballs used were 3" in diameter.

Fierce looking masthead, tiny balls. I'm just saying...

These last two photos are from inside the Turtle Ship.

After Chinhae, he went north to Pohang. There's a helicopter squadron stationed and they must have needed some Industrial Hygiene or Safety work.

BTW... if you want to see these photos better, just click on one and you will get a larger version.

Not much free time in Pohang either. The only sites he saw were restaurants. He's happy to eat in Asian restuarants. I try to give him food for lunch, but he prefers to eat at the sushi-go-round or in one of the restuarants just outside the gates of the base.

And as there hasn't been a quick lesson for a while, here's one now...

QUICK LESSON: Golden Week. In Japan, there are four national holidays between April 29th and May 5, so most employers give their workers the week off.

April 29th is Hirohito's birthday. Most Japanese that I've talked to don't know the name of the current emperor (Akihito), much less his father, but they still celebrate his birthday.

May 3rd is Constitution Day, the 4th is Greenery Day (Japanese Earth Day), then the 5th is called Children's Day, but it's really a day to celebrate sons and pray for their futures. The traditional decoration is a samurai doll. There is a Girls' Day in March, but it's not a national holiday. Don't get me started.

So, since 4 of the 9 national holidays fall in a seven day period, it's a sort of spring break.